WASHINGTON, D.C.: The House on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) approved Texas Rep. Pete Olson’s bill to delay the timeline for states to meet ozone standards, mostly along a 229-199 party-line vote.
The Pearland Republican’s bill, House Resolution No. 806, would give states until October 2026, over nine years, to reach the 2015 ozone standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration. The bill also would limit future regulations that crack down on the pollutant.
The bill includes seven Texas co-sponsors: Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan; Rep. Henry Cuellar D-Laredo; Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Pilot Point; Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas; Rep. Randy Weber, R-Friendswood; Rep. Brian Babin; R-Woodville; and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio.
Only 11 Republicans voted no. Cuellar was one of four Democrats to support the bill, and Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, did not vote.
“My bill provides needed flexibility so that states and localities can adequately achieve new, lower standards with time for compliance,” Olson said in a news release. “Health remains the first priority in setting standards and giving our local officials the tools they need to make the Clean Air Act work.”
The bill would delay requirements by states to implement part of the 2015 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule lowering the acceptable level of ozone. The EPA also would reconsider the ozone rule every 10 years instead of the current five years.
Business and manufacturing groups also supported the bill, which now heads to the Senate.
Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, said the bill was economically smart.
“I believe it is critical that we continue to make strides in cleaning our air while providing states with more flexibility so we can ensure communities aren’t saddled with regulatory costs that stifle job creation and cripple our economy,” he said in a news release.
But Krystal Henagan, a San Antonio mother who leads the 40,000-member Texas chapter of the Moms Clean Air Force, disagrees. She said that progressive environmental policy doesn’t have to come at the cost of jobs.
“There are solutions available, and a lot of times they help create jobs, they help build the economy, make the economy strong and make it more diversified,” she said. “Implementing these solutions are not job-killing regulations, it’s something that’s good for our economy and good for our future.”
Last week, the Moms Clean Air Force, a national organization for mothers supporting climate policy reform, teamed up with Mi Familia Vota, a Hispanic political mobilization group, and gathered on the Senate lawn to raise awareness of environmental issues.
“I’m going to talk about urging them to promote solutions for climate change, urging them to keep protections on smog, so not rolling back protections on ozone smog,” Henagan said of her plans to meet with different Texas lawmakers.
Henegan sees some Texas politicians’ views on the environment as troublesome, especially given the variety of extreme weather experienced in the state — coastline threatened by sea level rise, flash flooding in the Hill Country, forest fires in the Panhandle, and drought throughout.
“They don’t see the connection, it’s just ‘pollute pollute pollute, spew more into the air,’ ” she said.
“It’s time they stand up and start talking about solutions and implementing solutions.”